Driving along West Grand River in Brighton, you see the tall, slender, ultra-modern Single Barrel Social set back from the road, flanked by Belle Tire and South Ore Creek and the Brighton Millpond. Only a tripod of bourbon barrels marks the entrance. Located on the site of the former Border Cantina, there is a certain karmatic appeal when you learn that the cantina was a favorite hangout for Single Barrel Social owner Chris Klebba’s mom and her friends.
It’s quite the upgrade.
“I wanted to bring an incredible experience to Brighton,” said Klebba, who grew up in the area before heading to Los Angeles. “Single Barrel Social is the culmination of everything I’ve loved in terms of look, feel, experience and service. I wanted to bring something expertly executed — every detail from start to finish has been deeply scrutinized to bring the best experience possible. We want to retain residents that would have to go 30+ miles away to get an experience like this.”
Klebba spent years in L.A. but despite the modern sensibility, this is not an L.A. place. This is a Livingston County place and it shows. He and his team know that when we go out, we all want to see everyone — and inside you can see the entire establishment from almost every vantage point.
The all-glass area at the front of the building leads to a patio, and can be reserved for group events. Coming up in October, live music will be featured in a partnership with 99.5 WYCD called “The Road to Stars and Strings.” (Lindsay Ell performs Oct. 5; Mac Watts performs Oct. 19. Tickets are $10 and available on the website)
The name Single Barrel Social hit Klebba as he was musing about his new venture, so he wrote it down — and it stuck. Single barrel calls to mind an extensive bourbon list, and there are, indeed, 32 bourbons, nine of which have single barrel in the name. In addition to the bourbon and other spirits, the menu features regular and craft beer with a rotating tap, a comprehensive wine list, and several non-alcoholic cocktails.
His favorite? Pink Duct Tape, a gin cocktail he claims will convert the non-gin crowd. The most popular drink is This Could Be Rhisky (bourbon, rum and coffee). The food menu definitely leans toward Mexican and Southwest cuisine, and while Klebba claims to be the pollo verde taco-eating champion, customers seem to think all of the tacos are just fine, thanks.
Klebba said he has learned “everything and nothing” throughout the process.
“The site work was a way longer process than expected,” Klebba said. The costs ratcheted up as well, with a total investment of $5 million. The old cantina could not be salvaged, and many utilities serving the site required upgrades.
“We want a multi-sensory experience, and we want customers to come in and experience the highest level possible in food, drink and customer service.”
But mostly, they want you to come on over, be social.
Single Barrel Social is located at 8724 W Grand River Ave, Brighton, Mich. 48116.
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight, Sunday-Thursday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Monday